Xzibit will forever go down as one of the most well-respected MCs to come out of the West Coast. And today, we celebrate his birthday.
Last week, the Black Jewish Entertainment Alliance hosted a Hip-Hop 50 panel to celebrate 50 years of the iconic genre, featuring a slew of well-respected panelists including Xzibit, Layzie Bone from Bone-Thugs-N-Harmony, Mazik from Blood of Abraham, and managers Steve Lobel and Steve Rifkin. The panel was hosted by Hip-Hop critic and commentator Justin Hunte.
The panel began with a discussion on the moment Xzibit fell in love with Hip-Hop.
“I was a child, and my parents were very religious,” Xzibit recalled. “They totally did not want me to listen to Hip-Hop whatsoever. They thought it was disgusting. They thought it was horrible. Cursing, it was everything that I’m not supposed to be doing. So I naturally loved to go and listen to Hip-Hop.”
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He continued, “Every time they’d find it, they’d confiscate it. They’d break my tapes, they’d destroy any kind of connection I had with it. That’s when I started writing my own raps. Because the next best thing to being able to listen to it is: because I loved it so much, I started writing my own raps at 13. That was it. They didn’t understand the creative. Before I fell in love with Hip-Hop, I was in love with words. My mother was an English teacher. My mother was also a poet. She wrote a book, I was really into using my vocabulary. I was totally interested in the creative process of what Hip-Hop was. I was a really young kid when I first started listening to hip hop and fell in love with it. I say about 13, 14 years old.”
Naturally, the convo gravitated towards the late, great Nipsey Hussle, whom Steve Lobel managed. Xzibit then told a story about how he presented Nipsey with an amazing opportunity to play Snoop Dogg in Straight Outta Compton.
“People don’t understand, I got the call when we were doing Straight Outta Compton, the movie. Because you just said people thinks he looks like Snoop, naturally the call went: “Hey, anybody know Nipsey Hussle? Can you get him on the phone? We want to offer the Snoop role to him.’ I called him like ‘Hey man, big opportunity. Shit’s about to be cracking. He said, ‘Hey, I appreciate the offer. I appreciate them reaching out, but I can’t do that. Because it’s gon’ solidify something that I’m trying to overpower right now, and I know where I’m going.’”
“So he turned down Straight Outta Compton because he knew his mission, his role was bigger than that role. And he didn’t want to make it harder for himself. Nip was a very smart, intelligent person. He knew where he was going and he was cut too short.”
Xzibit also emphasized the importance of originality in Hip-Hop back when he was coming up, even crediting The Pharcyde for creating their own genre of music that people were into. Nowadays, he says everyone sounds the same. He attributes this to two factors: the amount of people who think they can rap, and the fact that making music is too accessible nowadays.